On 21 October 2022, the African Development Bank and the Mano River Union Secretariat hosted an event to launch the Project to Build Inclusive Business Ecosystems for Stabilization and Transformation in the Mano River Union (BI-BEST) in Freetown, Sierra Leone.
Launching the $4.25 million project, Sierra Leone’s Minister of Gender and Children’s Affairs, Manty Tarawalli, commended the African Development Bank for what she said was a “well-thought” initiative to support women’s economic empowerment.
She said the project would empower women cross-border traders and foster economic development and regional integration within the Mano River Union.
Minister Tarawalli noted that the project was timely as it would help Liberia and Sierra Leone in their efforts to mitigate the impact of the current global economic challenges on their people.
Isata Kamara, Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry of Sierra Leone and a representative of the Ministry of Gender and Social Protection of Liberia, attended the event. Other participants included representatives of development partners, joint border security units, the Mano River Women’s Peace Network and women cross-border traders.
BI-BEST is expected to positively impact nearly 1500 women traders at two borders points — Koindu-Foya in Liberia and Jendema-Bo Waterside in Sierra Leone. The project will run through 2025 and provides women cross-border traders with gender-responsive capacity building, finance access, and assistance to connect to more profitable markets. Accordignly, at least 1200 women traders expected to report new or improved opportunities to increase their income and enhance the quality of their jobs.
The project will also strengthen the institutional capacity of the Mano River Union Secretariat and business support organizations to better empower women traders to foster resilient economies and peaceful communities.
Mano River Union Secretary General Ambassador Medina Wesseh and the African Development Bank’s Country Manager for Sierra Leone, Halima Hashi, recognized the Bank’s convening power to build strong partnerships and fund initiatives on the nexus between gender equality, resilience building, and entrepreneurship development.
Hashi emphasized the need to minimize delays during the implementation phase to ensure maximum benefits to women. “Project delays lead to increased costs and delayed benefits to the target group,” she said.
The BI-BEST project is managed by the Gender and Women’s Empowerment Division of the African Development Bank.
Click here to read more about the project.
By Charleine MBUYI LUSAMBA, Task Manager & Hoda Tarek, Gender and Development Expert